Miami Beach Outdoor Dining Rules Upheld in Court

Image of businesses with parklets in Miami.

The new contract-based permitting model allowing restaurants to operate sidewalk dining parklets in Miami Beach was upheld by a Miami-Dade County judge this week following a legal challenge brought by a small group of businesses who disputed the new model, which goes into effect Oct. 1.

The nine restaurateur plaintiffs argued that the contract-based model infringed on their vested right to do business on city property.

The new permitting model was approved by the Miami Beach City Commission on June 22 and establishes specific terms and requirements that businesses must abide by to operate on city property or risk having their permit revoked.

The Miami Beach city manager now has the power to revoke the operating permit of any business that violates the contract, including soliciting pedestrians, playing loud music, taking up too much space, not listing prices among other violations.

“It’s an important ruling because it establishes our right to control our public spaces,” Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber said. “This will allow us to establish minimum standards that make clear to our businesses and visitors that this is not an ‘anything goes’ city.”

And this is an important detail for event planners seeking to host an event in the vibrant, palm tree-laden island city while utilizing some of Miami’s meeting venues such as the Miami Beach Convention center.

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“Miami Beach has very high standards as a city,” says Miami Vice Mayor Alex Fernandez. “We want people to be able to enjoy their meal,” noting that the city’s goal is to protect visitors and residents while ensuring that people have a positive experience through proper code enforcement.

The use of outdoor dining parklets went into effect during the Covid pandemic as part of the city’s business recovery program. However, there were no real avenues for courts to uphold ordinances prior to transitioning to the contract-based model.

“The city has a continuing interest in what happens on its property,” the court held. “Nothing that has happened created any vested property rights in any of the plaintiffs and all prior ordinances made clear that the grant of a permit was conditional.”

To date, Miami Beach has entered into 152 concession agreements with local restaurants, permitting them to continue offering outside dining on city property.

 

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